Believe me, your staff knows that times are tough. But, on the other hand, they also know (and see) excessive and unnecessary (in their eyes) spending. So don’t take the Holiday celebration away from them. If you truly need to cut expenses and are not just posturing to appear frugal, then be honest with your staff. Hold a quick ‘All Hands Meeting’. (The term was coined for a pre-IPO meeting with all staff but is now used freely as an all staff meeting where everyone meets in one space, standing up for a quick 5-15 minute meeting.)
At the meeting, confirm that it has been a tough year and as much as you want to hold the usual Holiday celebration – you just can’t do it this year in your normal fashion. Then, you have a couple of options:
· One of my favorites is announcing that you want their help in coming up with the best way to say celebrate with all of them for giving it their all this tough year and to wish them Happy Holidays. Then explain that when everyone leaves the meeting, they will receive a ballot and are asked to fill it out and put it in a ballot box before going home. On the ballot, have no more than three options. Depending upon your financial circumstances, you can offer a variety of choices –but remember—only offer three! Some of the ideas that I have seen well received are:
1. A ‘themed’ potluck. One that I have seen work well is where the company provides the main course, drinks and dessert (usually a huge sheet cake).The main course can be anything from chicken to prime rib to turkey to ham. Then, ask the employees bring a holiday dish that is traditional in their family and/or in their culture. (Be sure to provide a sign-up sheet so everyone brings something different and you don’t end up with 40 green bean casseroles!) In one company I worked with, we did this and even after times got better, the employees wanted to continue the tradition. One Christmas we celebrated with a Latin them and the company bought all of the beef and the wear house guys took the meat home and their wives made special marinades and then everyone brought fabulous side dishes to share. It was very festive and the guys who cooked got rave reviews for their bbqing skills! And, I still crave the home-made tortillas!!!
2. Another idea that I’ve seen is to offer everyone a Friday afternoon off. You can scatter it over 2-3 weeks or pick one day and inform your customers in advance that you will be closed that afternoon. Explain that the purpose of the afternoon is for people to have time for their Holiday shopping, errands, trips to the post office, etc. Now this might sound like a pricey option, but once you to a CBA (cost benefit analysis) and realize that you basically lose productivity after 1 pm on most Fridays, especially during the holidays, and that if you do have a party, even if people return to work, they are generally not very productive, you might find this to be a good option for you to offer.
3. And lastly, an inexpensive and team developing idea is to have the company provide cake and coffee/tea/eggnog and a secret gift exchange. This is where people choose a name and buy for that person. There is generally a low cost limit, say %10 or $20 per gift. Depending upon the group and the time you have, you may want to allow the swapping of gifts, but I encourage you to limit thes waps so that the party doesn’t take 8 hours ;) It is best to choose a 3:00 pm time for such an event so that employees won’t prolong things as they will be anxious to go home at 5:00 pm. click here for info on this idea
4. There are numerous options to offer, but following my own rule of three, I only provided three ideas J Here are a few sites that I found with ideas for frugal office parties: http://sandiego.jobing.com/blog_post.asp?post=27672 , http://www.suite101.com/content/office-party-food-menus-a175132 , http://blog.funawards.com/
The bottom line is don’t miss this opportunity. If you are open tomorrow for business – do something – even if you haven’t taken these steps to include their input. Or announce that you will all celebrate together when you come back to work after the Holidays. FIND A WAY to show your gratitude and humanity to those who work so hard to ensure the company’s success every day. Don’t cheat them out of this honor. And for you die hard “bottom liners” – it will pay off in ways you cannot even imagine.